The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on the world, and I write this update while sending all our visitors best wishes and the hope that you remain safe.
The Australian Government has set up a dedicated webpage with the latest news and updates. Some of the key points are listed below.
COVID-19 Impacts on Working Holiday Visas and Sponsored (482) Visas
Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of Working Holiday Visa Jobs and Sponsored Jobs In Australia. Given the recent travel restrictions and border lockdown, this isn’t surprising. We are still seeing a tricky of new jobs being added however they are nothing like the volumes we’d usually see in a typical month.
I expect those jobs being advertised currently may be roles the employers plan to onboard in the next two to three months when things have (hopefully) started to return a little more to normal and travel restrictions begin to be lifted.
Based on current Government advise, Australians are being advised that the current restrictions and recommendation to self-isolate may stretch for six months or more. In short, I don’t anticipate seeing any significant changes in this space for at least the next 2 – 4 months.
COVID-19 Impacts on Current Australian Visa Holders
Leaving Australia – Can return
COVID-19-related restrictions around travelling outside Australia do not apply to people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia. You can return to your home country/country of habitual residence if it is safe and possible to do so.
You should apply for a new visa before your current visa expires.
Staying in Australia
You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You might be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your visa application.
No further stay condition (includes 8503, 8534 and 8535)
This means you can’t apply for most other visas until you leave Australia. If your visa has less than two months validity remaining you can request to waive this condition. We will advise you of the outcome of your request. If your request is approved, you can make a new visa application.
Condition 8558 (Non-resident cannot stay for more than 12 months in any 18 months)
You will need to apply for a new visa that suits your new needs. Explore your visa options.
If your visa has expired, you need to apply for Bridging E visa (BVE) immediately to become lawful. A BVE keeps you lawful while you make arrangements to leave or finalise your immigration matter.
Complying with your Australia visa conditions
Can’t provide additional information due to office closure (Health or Police clearances, Biometrics, English Language Testing)
You will be given extra time to complete checks and provide requested information.
Can’t return to Australia before my visa expires and want to return
You will need to apply for a new visa once the travel restrictions are lifted.
Can’t complete Australian Study Requirement or periods of stay under the regional initiatives for Temporary graduate visa holders
The Australian migration department is looking at concessions on a case-by-case basis.
Bridging Visa Holders
If your Bridging visa expires and you are outside Australia, you will need to apply for another visa. Bridging visas cannot be granted if you are outside Australia.
Processing visa applications
Applicants should be aware that COVID-19 may impact some services relating to the visa application process.
We are aware of issues accessing the VEVO system for certain visa holders. If you can’t use VEVO to check your visa status and conditions, you can still access your visa grant letter and visa conditions online using your ImmiAccount.
Australian Visa medical appointments impacted by COBID-19
Australian visa applicants should be aware of disruptions to visa medical services, both in Australia and outside Australia, due to COVID-19.
Visa processing officers are aware of the disruptions, and they will take the extended timeframes into account when considering your visa application.
You do not need to contact the migration department if your visa medical has been rescheduled.
If you have not yet lodged a visa application or have not been requested to undertake an immigration medical examination, there is no need to contact a visa medical services clinic in Australia or an overseas panel clinic at this time.
Bupa Visa Medical Services and other Visa Medical Services clinics continue to operate. However, visa medical services have reduced due to requirements of the Department of Health in relation to COVID-19. The measures include social distancing. This is to be implemented for all existing bookings from 19 March onwards. The measures may reduce appointment availability in many centres.
The migration department has confirmed that they may cancel some bookings and issue refunds. They will contact all people with cancelled appointments and reschedule into available appointments before opening the booking system to new appointments. These measures are temporary. They will be reviewed regularly on the advice of the Department of Health.
If you are outside Australia, it’s noted that there are disruptions to overseas services. Some applicants have temporarily suspended or reduced operations for the next few months.
A large number of panel clinics are implementing additional risk management controls according to their national management responses to COVID-19 and their respective Government’s advice.
Permanent visa holders
Permanent residents of Australia may return to Australia. They will be required to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (for example, a hotel), in their port of arrival. This includes people offshore who have been granted a permanent visa but have not yet arrived on that visa.
Visa cancellation Due To Covid-19
The Australian migration department will notify you in writing if your visa has been cancelled in response to the temporary travel restrictions. This will include information on how to seek revocation of the visa cancellation decision.
COVID-19 Impacts on Australian Student Visas
Extending student visas
Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a student visa.
You need to apply for a new visa if:
- you cannot return to your home country, and your visa is expiring
- you need more time in Australia to complete your course.
You should apply for a new Student visa six weeks before your existing Student visa expires. There is no need to provide evidence of the impacts of COVID-19 with your Student visa application.
If your study in Australia is ending, you can apply for a Visitor visa (subclass 600). You need to do this before your student visa expires.
Working in Australia
The course is ‘out of session.’
You can work unlimited hours if your course is considered ‘out of session’. Courses are considered ‘out of session’ during scheduled course breaks or if a student has finished their course as scheduled.
Studying a masters by research or a doctorate course
If you have commenced studying a masters by research or a doctorate course, you may work unlimited hours.
You cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight when your course of study is ‘in-session’, regardless of whether you are attending classes physically or online. A course is considered ‘in-session’ for the duration of the advertised semesters (including periods when exams are being held) even if the student is studying online.
Approved deferral of your course
You can work over 40 hours per fortnight if your course has been deferred.
Exemptions for some international students
There are new provisions for student visa holders if they are:
- already enrolled in nursing
- employed by select supermarkets.
Australian study requirements
The Department of Home Affairs does not regulate the mode of study requirements. You should contact your education provider. Please refer to the Joint TEQSA and ASQA statement relating to flexible delivery. For the exceptions as a result of the travel restrictions, see the National Code requirements for affected tertiary students to undertake online study.
Notifying the Department
You do not need to inform the Department if you return home, or your study situation changes. Your visa remains valid until you lodge another visa application, or your visa expires. The status of your visa will remain unchanged if you return home or defer your studies.